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Macklem Blog #6 - An Open Letter to Judge Cleland


Author’s Note: Every wrongful conviction causes dual torment: the torment of the innocent yet imprisoned individual, and the social torment that the actual perpetrator remains free. This blog focuses primarily on the latter in the hope that we will gain more knowledge about the murderer of Scott Macklem.

The following open letter was prompted by reading the most recent US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The statements of “fact” by this panel of the Court was stunningly inaccurate. To my mind, there could be only one source of such disinformation; a person who happens to sit on the Federal bench, has political motivations, and has very personal reasons for wanting this whole fiasco buried as deeply as possible. And that person is Judge Robert Cleland.

Cleland was the elected chief St. Clair County prosecutor and personally handled the trial of Fredrick Freeman. Cleland was and is very politically motivated and has pursued his political ambitions vigorously. Around the time of the Scott Macklem murder, Cleland ran for Michigan Attorney General in the Republican primary election. Cleland was appointed to a lifetime term as judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1990.


Post #6: An Open Letter to Judge Robert Cleland

Dear Judge Cleland,

I am writing to express my profound disappointment in the way in which you have wielded your political influence particularly since the murder of Scott Macklem and the wrongful conviction of Fredrick Freeman. In most cases, someone with as much political influence as you have, would want to use that power for the greater good. In your case at least with respect to Fredrick Freeman, you have done the opposite.

This started during the prosecution of Mr. Freeman when attention was diverted away from a real investigation. I believe this occurred to protect the victim's father who was a local mayor, and very influential in Republican politics. I also believe that the individuals who investigated the murder diverted attention towards Freeman despite no reason to suspect him. The individuals who killed Scott (most likely the two yet unidentified individuals who threatened him) were entrenched in local drug and “turf” wars. I believe that the local legal community chose not to have Scott, or his family exposed for having any relationship to those types of people.

Likewise, you did not want the Port Huron Police Department or the St. Clair County Sheriff's Office entwined in that same drug-related subterfuge. So, you created a subterfuge of your own by influencing an interview with one witness to bring Mr. Freeman under suspicion. You used a false photo lineup with another witness who had been hypnotized before describing the person he allegedly saw after hearing a gunshot. You portrayed Mr. Freeman as a ninja warrior in a case involving a professional hit with a shotgun. I believe you made sure through your contacts at the jail, that Mr. Freeman was assigned an impaired defense attorney; a man who was also deeply entwined in the same drug-related subterfuge occurring in your jurisdiction. You suborned perjured testimony from a “jailhouse snitch.” You put up your own private pilot up as a witness at the trial without disclosing your relationship with him. You hid evidence from the defense for years, including the doctored photo lineup board and police interviews with additional alibi witnesses, at least one of which had significant exculpatory testimony to offer.

It’s a significant understatement to say that you should be ashamed of yourself for the way you handled this case as a prosecutor. Even more of an understatement to say that you should be ashamed of yourself for the influence you have continued to exert to assure that Mr. Freeman never experiences what he has been entitled to since the day of Scott Macklem’s murder: his constitutional right to be free from prosecutorial misconduct, false accusations and ultimately, a wrongful conviction.

You've not only influenced former Attorney General Bill Schuette and possibly former Governor Rick Snyder; you've also influenced the Federal bench. Its members make crazy, inaccurate findings of fact in order to twist those facts to meet the legal standard to keep Mr. Freeman locked up for the duration of his mandatory life sentence. You've done this even though you knew full well that he was the wrong suspect from the beginning.

You, Judge Cleland, are the primary reason that this wrongful conviction took place, and many believe that you have been a primary reason why it has never been overturned. Your colleague on the bench, Judge Denise Page Hood, had the courage to nail this case. Yet on an insignificant procedural flaw the prosecution's appeal of that ruling stood.

I'm amazed at the “facts” I read in the Federal Court rulings, which have no semblance even to the made-up facts that resulted in the wrongful conviction. Those made-up facts have been twisted even further by the Federal bench. How did that happen? What influence could have made imitation facts even worse for Mr. Freeman? Either the members of the Federal bench have wild imaginations, or someone influenced these findings.

My plea to you, Judge Cleland, is to, at long last, at some point soon, please do the right thing. You have managed to openly or tacitly affect the outcome of this case from day one. Please, can you openly, or just as tacitly, affect the outcome of this case for the good? Let's allow an innocent person to walk free and convict the guilty. That was your job back in 1986 and I admonish you that it is your job now as a Federal judge. I know you fear the political career you worked so hard for may crumble. There must be tools at your disposal to assure that doesn’t happen.

I would recommend that you do this before a judge like Denise Page Hood has the chance to call out the horrendous prosecution of Fredrick Freeman. Before he is granted a new trial, where the actual evidence of the crime will be presented, effective cross examination of witnesses can occur, no ninja weapons will be kept on display, no lying jailhouse snitch will be presented and most importantly, where Mr. Freeman will be able to exercise his constitutional right to testify in his own defense. That’s something his impaired defense attorney forgot to properly advise him of at his first “trial.”

A new trial in this case would serve justice; justice could be more swiftly served by commuting Mr. Freeman’s sentence immediately. I know you can’t grant that request, but you can certainly influence the MDOC, the Michigan Attorney General and/or the Governor to do so.

If I didn't know this case so well, I would tell anyone who tried to inform me of it that they were crazy, and that what happened in this case could not have happened in the real world. Let's jump out of the other-worldly dimension created by the falsehoods in this case and rejoin the real world, shall we?

Barbara kennedy
Author Barbara Kennedy

Very sincerely yours,

Barbara Kennedy

It’s time to arrest and convict the real killer(s) of Scott Macklem. If you have any information that may assist in this effort, I implore you to contact Dave Sanders at Thank you.


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